The eviction bans were understandable. A lot of people lost work and some were unable to pay rent. With the housing shortage, finding a place to move to could become very difficult. The housing market is still jammed now with demand vastly exceeding supply even in unlikely places.
But allowing the government, let alone the CDC, to impose an eviction ban was a huge power grab. And illegal.
Like a lot of the illegal emergency measures of the pandemic, little was done about it at the time. But a judge appointed by President Trump is providing some relief.
In a 20-page ruling, U.S. District Court Judge Dabney Friedrich, who was appointed by Trump, ruled that the agency exceeded its authority with the temporary ban.
“The question for the Court is a narrow one: Does the Public Health Service Act grant the CDC the legal authority to impose a nationwide eviction moratorium? It does not,” Friedrich wrote.
But while some judges have limited the scope of their rulings to apply only to the parties involved in the particular lawsuits before them, Friedrich rebuffed the federal government’s request that she narrow the effect of her decision, indicating its reach would be nationwide.
“The Department urges the Court to limit any vacatur order to the plaintiffs with standing before this Court. This position is at odds with settled precedent,” she wrote, citing prior court rulings.
This will have a limited impact on actual evictions because many states have their own eviction bans in place, but it upholds the rule of law which took a hell of a beating during the pandemic.
It’s going to take a lot of time and effort just to restore the rule of law as it existed before 2020. And I’m not optimistic about that. The hidden damage of the pandemic lockdowns is that it created legal and societal precedents that the system will only double down on.